By Zahid Khan
The arrangement of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group [QCG] is a friendly development and a good idea—the US and China have once again maintained their support to the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. On January 10, 2016, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC expressed that the senior officials of four-nations, Afghanistan-Pakistan-United States-China participated in the first meeting of QCG was held in Islamabad on January 11, 2016. The meeting negotiated the leeway of a reinstate to talk with the Afghan Taliban—It underlined the strong commitment of the Government of Afghanistan for peace and reconciliation with Taliban groups and Hezbi Islami Hekmatyar, the support of the Afghan nation for this national priority and his call on the Taliban and other groups to join early direct talks with the Government of Afghanistan. The group included Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard G. Olson and China’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Ambassador Deng Xijun. The QCG decided to track efforts as part of a concentrated agenda of meetings and debate. Group agenda squeezed on adopting a transparent and pragmatic measurement of the opportunities for peace and reconciliation.
The Group recapitulates the assurance of their countries to the realization of objectives expressed in their statement from the quadrilateral meeting held on the side-lines of the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad on 9 December 2015. The participants emphasized the immediate need for direct talks between representatives of the Government of Afghanistan and representatives from Taliban groups in a peace process that aims to preserve Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The meeting adopted terms for the work of the QCG and agreed to continue regular meetings to advance the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
According to the report of Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty [RFERL]—the second meeting of the QCG was held in Kabul on January 18, 2016. The delegation was led by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, the US Ambassador to Afghanistan Michael McKinley and China’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Ambassador Deng Xijun—addressing the meeting, Afghan Foreign Minister, Salahuddin Rabbani invited the Taliban on behalf of the government and the people of Afghanistan to join the peace process and solve all differences through negotiations. At the same time, he also warned that those Taliban members who reject talks and push for war would be isolated. Reiterating their commitment for an Afghan led, Afghan owned peace process, all four countries discussed a possible roadmap for reviving talks and called on all Taliban groups to enter into early talks with the Afghan government to resolve differences politically in accordance with the will and aspirations of the entire Afghan nation. They also emphasized the need for an end to the senseless violence against the Afghan people. It was decided that the third the Quadrilateral Contact Group meeting would take place on February 6, 2016 in Islamabad.
The press report of ministry of foreign affairs, Afghanistan expressed—the 4th meeting of the QCG of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China on the Afghan Peace and Reconciliation process was held in Kabul on February 23, 2016—the delegations were led by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing and U.S. Charge d’Affaires, David Lindwall. The QCG members welcomed the strong statement by H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, on 15 February in which he once again underlined the strong commitment of the Government of Afghanistan for peace and reconciliation with Taliban groups and Hezbi Islami Hekmatyar, the support of the Afghan nation for this national priority and his call on the Taliban and other groups to join early direct talks with the Government of Afghanistan—the QCG also welcomed the decision by Afghanistan and Pakistan to constitute a bilateral joint working group to work with the honorable Ulema of Afghanistan and Pakistan for their support to the Afghan led and Afghan owned peace and reconciliation process, including through Fatwas against the ongoing senseless violence. The next QCG meeting will take place in Islamabad immediately after the first direct peace talks.
Mr. Karzai told Hindu in an interview in Delhi— the Taliban said it would not attend the talks until all the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces had left the country. We reject all such rumors and unequivocally state that the leader of Islamic emirate has not authorized anyone to participate in this meeting”, the statement reported on by agencies in Kabul said. “(Islamic emirate) once again reiterates that unless the occupation of Afghanistan is ended, blacklists eliminated and innocent prisoners freed, such futile misleading negotiations will not bear any results—India, Iran and Russia should be included in the talks with the Taliban, says former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who said that the current talks among the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) were Afghanistan’s only hope for peace in spite of the fact that the talks were being held in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s compassionate position makes this process more credible on many counts. However, for the process to thrive, all sides will have to display immense tolerance, maturity and candidness to facilitate each other’s views. The Taliban have given no direction of a ceasefire, and continue to justify their insurgency as a “means to liberate Afghanistan from foreign control. However, now that the responsibility of national security lies with the Afghan National Security Forces, with majority of foreign forces out of the country, it is no longer advisable for the Taliban to do so since they are no longer fighting a ‘foreign’ enemy.
Express Tribune mentioned in its editorial report on Afghan peace process that—the factions and differences within the Taliban mainly among the group’s new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour and break away factions such as the one headed by Mohamed Rasool is also a key hurdle to the peace process—A significant factor that could induce the Taliban to accept the Afghan government’s overtures for peace negotiation is the mounting presence of the Islamic State (IS) in the region and its growing infiltration into Afghanistan. However, the control of the Islamic State in Afghanistan is limited compared to that of the Taliban, many Taliban fighters and commanders such as Mullah Mawalwi Najib, Abdul Rauf Khadim, Syed Emarati and Mawlawi Qahar have defected and joined the IS—this poses a serious strategic threat to the very survival of the future of the Taliban in Afghanistan. In fact, it is believed that the Taliban have initiated a “recruitment commission to reach out to those members who have defected to IS in an attempt to win them back—both Pakistan and Afghanistan must keep the gains they have made in their fragile relationship independent of the peace process.